Saturday, January 31, 2009

Top Bargins From Spain!

For those of you living in or around Austin, Texas - pick up Austin Monthly Magazine, not only is it full of great bargins on food, services and shopping - they featured Bodegas Ercavio - Mas Que Vinos Tempranillo Roble 2006 on page 78.

Here's the scoop about this fabulous bottle of Spanish Red Wine (retails under $15 at your favorite wine shop).

100% Tempranillo Altitude: 750m above sea level

Soils: Calcareous-clay combinations Aging: 5 months in French and American oak

91 points, Wine Advocate

About Bodegas Ercavio...

Mas Que Vinos = 3 Winemakers & 3 Friends. Margarita Madrigal, Gonzalo Rodriguez, and Alexandra Schmedes met in 1998 in Rioja and began a “flying winemaker” consultant firm, taking them to projects across Spain. They were drawn to Gonzalo’s home town of Dosbarrios where they saw great potential in the vineyards and decided to launch their own project, Ercavio, named for an old Roman settlement. They renovated an old family winery (from 1851) with typical tinajas (large clay wine vats: the traditional and antique method for fermenting in the region), located in the house of La plazuela in Dosbarrios. It is here that the wine la Plazuela is barrel aged.

The area of the village Dosbarrios, Huerta and Cabañas, with their vineyards is the Mesa de Ocaña, located about 60km east of Toledo. The continental climate is especially suited to growing grapes with cold, dry winters and hot summers, tempered by high altitude cooling.

This bottle is perfect with anything grilled...a great party bottle to open during Superbowl parties too! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wines from the beautiful Dundee Hills of Oregon

Ahh, I had dinner recently with friends that are HUGE Oregon wine lovers and have been collecting for years. I brought over the new 2007 Lange Estate Pinot Gris and 2005 Lange Estate Freedom Hill Pinot Noir - which blew their socks off!

Next time you reach for Oregon - give Lange a try. You'll be hooked I just know it. Here's some recent accolades and press passed along from the Lange family...

Recent Press on 2006 Pinot Noirs

In addition to recognition from The Prince of Pinot and well-known wine writer, John Winthrop Haeger, we were surprised this past summer by a visit from Jay Miller of eRobertParker. At his request, we arranged a last-minute tasting and share his reviews below.


"Overall, Lange pinots display great aromatic interest, strong minerality, and bright, refreshing structure. The Three Hills Cuvee is quite approachable early on ..." TASTING NOTES: "Luminous medium garnet; fragrant, flowers-and-red-fruit nose; intense; slightly peppery, and edgy attack; red fruit and spice on the mid-palate; bright and attractive overall, with a hint of citrus and the texture of polished cotton." -John Winthrop Haeger, Pacific Pinot Noir

"The 2006 Pinot Noir Three Hills Cuvee is a blend of the estate's three oldest single vineyards. It is dark ruby-colored with an alluring nose of Asian spices, earth notes, black cherry, and black raspberry. This leads to a medium- to full-bodied Pinot with good density, savory flavors, and enough structure to evolve for 2-3 years. 90 points." -Jay Miller,, October 2008


"Bright red cherry and rose petal aromas. Juicy and succulent red cherry and raspberry fruit coat the mouth with hints of dust and Xmas spice and ending in a long, scented finish. The whole package is impressively harmonious." - William "Rusty" Gaffney, MD - aka, The Prince of Pinot, "PinotFile," December 13, 2008. *The Prince of Pinot, who does not rate wines on a numerical scale, gave this wine the Pinot Geek Icon, which signifies "a Pinot Noir that is truly exceptional. Only the most complete and transcendent Pinot Noirs will be so designated."

"The 2006 Pinot Noir Lange Estate Vineyard offers more spice and darker fruits. Plummy, blueberry and blackberry aromas and flavors lead to a smooth-textured, layered wine with good balance and length. It can be enjoyed over the next eight years. 91 points." -Jay Miller,, October 2008

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pellegrini Family Vineyards - Sonoma California

Robert Pellegrini is visiting Dallas over the next few days. Texans have made his beautiful estate wines a staple in their homes and favorite local restaurants. Right now, the 2006 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir is drinking fabulous. Winemaker’s Notes: This wine exhibits unmistakable Olivet Lane characteristics typified by brilliant color, silky texture, delicate mouthfeel, and upfront flavors of framboise, cherries and spice.
For all you Cloverdale Ranch fans - keep it up! More and more fine wine shops and delicious restaurants are turning to this Alexander Valley Cab and Merlot as their "go-to" California wine list favorite...
Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Hum, blogging on this historic and significant day in America. Many thoughts of what to write keep running around in my head. Over the past years, I've been so blessed to host winemakers from California, Oregon, Argentina, France and Spain in Texas. I've sat down many times to break bread and toast to their amazing wines...each time they voice how incredibly proud they feel...the freedom to make and sell wine here in the States.

I'm especially thinking about all the wineries TexaCali represents from California and Oregon. True American Pioneers - each one of them. I encourage you all to take a little time to read about them, their history is deep in American roots, entreprenurial passion and each winery encompasses the true meaning of living the American Dream.

Lange Estate, Handley Cellars, Medlock-Ames, LIOCO, Teira, Storrs, Pellegrini Family Vineyards, Lewelling, Davis Family Vineyards and Colgin Cellars - all website links are on this page:

Thanks to you all for your continued support of all these incredible folks...Ali

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Off Subject

...a little reminder this morning to relax and not take life so seriously all the time in 2009. This creative T-Mobile Spot just ran in the UK...promised to put a smile on your face and just may cause you to do a little dance. 'Life is for Sharing" Indeed - Ali

Thursday, January 15, 2009

oh and there's more...

For a complete list of TexaCali Wine Co. medal winners of the San Francisco Chronicle's Wine Competition, please check out the home page on

A big round of applause for Storrs, Handley Cellars, Davis Family Vineyards and Pellegrini Family Vineyards! Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Congrats to Storrs Winery!

Storrs killed it in the SF Chronicle Competition this year. They submitted 7 wines and won a medal for each! You can find Storrs at your favorite Texas Wine Shop - just ask. Storrs wines are distributed by Avante Beverages throughout Texas.

Summary of Awards at the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Award: Best of Class

Vintage Year Varietal AVA Vineyard Designation Retail Price

2005 Petite Sirah Santa Cruz Mountains $23.00

Award: Double Gold

Vintage Year Varietal AVA Vineyard Designation Retail Price

2006 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Wildcat Ridge $40.00

Award: Gold

Vintage Year Varietal AVA Vineyard Designation Retail Price

2006 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains $36.00

2007 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Stu Miller $32.00

2005 Zinfandel Santa Clara County Lion Oaks $35.00

2007 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains $25.00

Award: Silver

Vintage Year Varietal AVA Vineyard Designation Retail Price

2006 Pinot Noir Monterey Le Manoir $36.00

Please go to to obtain tasting notes...hurrah for Storrs! Ali

Logo Contest Update...

The new Logo submissions are coming in! Please send an email with the entry to ali at texacaliwine dot com along with your contact information: Name, email address, Phone Number.

Here's the first one received...remember all
logos will be posted on February 1 on for you all to vote on the best one! $1000 for the winner! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A case of red to buy over and over again....

The Wine: 2005 Mas Donis 85% Garnacha, 15% Syrah, 80+ year old Garnacha, 30+ year old Syrah, Aged for 8 months in French and American oak before bottling without fining or filtration.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate Tasting Notes: 91 Points – “It offers up an expressive nose of slate, mineral, licorice, violets, blackcherry, and blueberry. Layered, long, and complex, this spicy, hedonistic effort has 2-3 years of aging potential but can be enjoyed now without guilt. It is a great value.

The Winery: Capcanes
The property is situated in the village of Capçanes and served for several years as the village cooperative. In the 1990’s, the co-op began making kosher wines for the Jewish population of Barcelona, and from that exposure in the much larger city, the property began to attract a greater level of interest.

In 1995, a vast investment took place and the whole winery was been completely restructured and modernized. Eric Solomon was quite impressed with the quality of the wines and saw the potential for even further improvements and launched several custom cuvee projects with Capçanes, building the strong foundation on which their close relationship is built.

Cheers - Ali

Friday, January 09, 2009

TexaCali Logo Contest

Well, TexaCali is heading into it's 5th year and is in the midst of updating and revamping many things...I'm approached often by wine lovers who are also graphic designers to help with my website and design elements. Hey, so let's have a fun contest and I'm thinking, why not let all you faithful wine fans help me decide on a new logo for TexaCali Wine Co.? Here's the deal...

TexaCali Wine Co. Logo Contest:
  • Submit a new TexaCali Wine Company (ali at texacaliwine dot com) logo design by January 31st.
  • You must incorporate the cowboy hat.
  • The entries will be posted on the website and blog on February 1 for TexaCali fans to vote on their favorite.
  • February 15 the winner of the new logo design will be announced to all.
  • 1st place: $1000 cash prize
  • 2nd place: $500 gift certificate to your favorite wine shop
  • 3rd place: $200 gift certificate to your favorite restaurant
And a way we go...Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Brand Spanking New Year...

and fabulous new website too! For all the times you've clicked on TexaCali's Spain and France pages and came up short - here you go:

Among the many highlights, you will find:

  • Ability to search by region and/or producer name
  • Snapshot biographies on each producer
  • Technical data for all wines
  • High resolution label images for all wines
  • High resolution bottle shots
  • Downloadable technical sheets and shelf cards
  • Distributor search by state with contact information
  • Updated news & events link

We will continue to populate new data and upload materials over the upcoming weeks and maintain updated information from here on out. Please contact us with questions and comments - we welcome your feedback!

Sake Sake Sake

I've been telling you all this before........Sake Mania

Sake surges in the U.S.

By Kelly Dinardo Source: The Associated Press Updated:01/06/2009 03:42:20 PM MST

For years, most Americans knew sake -- assuming they knew it at all -- as a hot, jet fuel-like drink sipped from thimble-sized cups between bites of sushi.

Turns out, we were swallowing schlock.

"There wasn't a lot of selection and what did come to us was an inferior brew," says Ed Lehrman, founder of Vine Connections, a wine and sake importer.

"Distribution of sake was limited to Japanese trading companies. They sell you the food, the plates, the sake. It's one-stop shopping for sushi restaurants. In that environment, sake wasn't getting its due. And the majority of the sake exported was table sake, which isn't very good."

But about 10 years ago, two things changed that.

In the U.S., Asian food trends boomed. Asian and Asian-fusion restaurants flourished, non-Asian restaurants served dishes with ingredients such as miso, wasabi and edamame, and grocers offered more ethnic fare.

At the same time, the Japanese began turning their noses up at sake. In Japan, young drinkers view sake as old fashioned, favoring beer and wine instead. As a result, sake consumption has fallen sharply since 1995.

To survive, premium sake (pronounced SAH-kay) brewers in Japan turned to Americans and began working with importers, who introduced sake to the fine wine market.

"Non-Japanese companies started importing sake and doing dog-and-pony shows to educate people about it," says Beau Timken, author of "Sake: A Modern Guide."

"Some educators started coming online," he says. "Restaurateurs are making an incredible effort to get people to try something they're not used to. Sake started getting more face time."

Americans' thirst for sake exploded. The U.S. has become the largest importer of Japanese sake worldwide.

During the past five years, the volume of sake brought from Japan has grown about 14 percent a year (987,475 gallons in 2007 and estimated at more than 1 million gallons for 2008), with an estimated total retail value around $150 million.

Now, restaurants such as Shibuya at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas even have a sake sommelier on staff to guide guests through their 110 sake offerings.

It's even increasingly common to find sake on the wine lists of non-Asian eateries. Chanterelle, New York's famously high-end French restaurant, has been hosting an annual sake tasting dinner for the past nine years.

Drinking sake at home also has become easier as premium sakes show up at more grocers, wine shops and stores like Timken's True Sake in San Francisco, which are dedicated solely to the Japanese drink.

And single-serve, sake drinks such as sake2me, a lightly carbonated sake that comes in Asian-themed flavors such as yuzu and ginger mango, are on the upswing; sake2me launched last year and is already available in 16 states.

Despite the upswing in consumption, most people still know little about it. Though often called rice wine, sake is brewed like a beer. "Sake is built like beer and drinks like wine," explains Timken.

Like beer, sake is fermented from a grain -- in this case rice -- whereas wine is made from fruit. Brewers polish the grains of sake rice to remove the outer coating.

How much of the outer layer is milled away is part of what determines the sake's grade. Brewers then steam the rice and add yeast to it so it will ferment before aging. Filtering and pasteurizing the sake completes the process.

"Another common misconception is serving temperature," says Timothy Sullivan, who runs the UrbanSake blog and teaches a Sake 101 class. "Some people think it must always be served cold. Others think it must be served hot. The truth is it depends on your mood and what kind of sake you're drinking."

Heating often is used to mask lower quality sakes, but some do blossom with a little warmth. However, for the most part, high-quality sakes are best consumed cold and out of wine glasses.

And as French, American and other non-Asian restaurants have demonstrated, sake isn't just for Asian food.

In general, delicate sakes -- those that have more of the outer layer milled away -- pair better with lighter food so the sake is not overwhelmed by the meal. More robust sakes can stand up to heartier flavors.

"Part of sake's appeal is that there's no snob factor," says Timken. "Don't be afraid to experiment, taste lots of different types and ask questions. That's how you learn. I have all these sake licenses. I'm even a sake samurai. But I'm just a guy from Ohio. If I can learn to understand sake, anyone can." Cheers! Ali

Monday, January 05, 2009

Oh yeah!!!

I often brag to others throughout Texas and the rest of the world about the dining scene in Houston, Texas. It's incredibly nice to see the following accolades go out to the family owned little house of fine wine and food on Westheimer Rd... FEAST!

"...the most interesting food in Houston, in Texas, maybe even in America."

Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle

One of the 'Big Three' best meals in the USA

GQ Magazine

'Best New Restaurant 2008'

Houston Press

'Best New Restaurant 2008'

Houston Chronicle

They post their daily specials each week on their website...go eat and be merry! Cheers - Ali